{An Umbrella Special Feature}

John Savoie

teaches great books at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

He has new work appearing in Best New Poets 2012.

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Winter Night

I don’t know what strange mood drove me to climb
half-way up the oak on that sparkling night,
but there I was, maybe five feet away
from the mess of leaves and sticks somehow sheaved

into the forking branches, and I swear
I could see a wisp of breath or body heat
expire in starlight, vaguer than any ghost,
and I knew a squirrel huddled within,

a thumbnail heart twitching in the dark,
smoldering coal beneath the ashen fur,
little nut of a brain, snug in its shell,
dreaming of birdsong and shuffling shade,

of supple branches interlacing tree
to tree, synaptic leap, catch, sway, quiver,
and the trail of acorns pattering below
like droplets rippling from a lifted oar.

Bark burning cold as iron through my gloves,
I swung down, once more the frosted earth
crunching under foot, and wished as I walked
for such a fire to heat one heart, or two.